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A Comprehensive Guide on The Major Security Testing Types and Tools

Saimukund Mathur Saimukund Mathur December 12, 2019
Security Testing

This is where security testing comes into the picture. It is a process of detecting security risks and vulnerabilities in the software systems early on so that developers can fix them before they're in front of your users.

Why Your Organization Needs a Security Testing Framework

  • To ensure security through all the different layers of an application

    From the security standpoint, there are different layers of an application. There's the infrastructure of the application. Then there's the network layer. Not to forget the database layer and the application exposure layers. Security testing is essential to evaluate the security through all the layers that your application has.

  • To prevent loss of critical data

    Another critical reason to have a strong security testing framework in place is to avoid losing customer trust. Since security testing identifies all possible weaknesses in the software system right in the beginning, it will save your system or application from an unexpected breakdown which might lead to loss of critical information. This will ultimately help you avoid losing your customers' trust.

  • To catch bugs in the initial phase so that fixing them isn’t much costly

    A robust security testing framework will help you save additional costs that would be required for fixing security issues that go unnoticed due to missing security testing practices. When it comes to bugs, it goes without saying that the earlier you catch them, the lesser is the cost of fixing them. And of course, lower are the efforts.

  • To prevent unauthorized access to your data

    Organizations need to prevent theft of information by unidentified users. This is another primary reason to use security testing. If someone gains unauthorized access to your data within an application, there's a high risk of your users' critical data being compromised. Building a strong security testing framework will save your business from information theft.

    Security testing isn't a singular thing, and neither is it absolute. It keeps evolving. With this in mind, let us discuss a few popular and significant types of security tests that organizations perform:

1. Security Scanning

This type of security test aims to find and assess the areas of a network’s vulnerabilities, usually with the use of specific automated software tools. Network attacks could compromise the security of your organization's and customers' sensitive information. Potential hackers could even alter or eradicate the information.

Need to close the door on your network attacks? Your best defence is to regularly run security scanning tests and fix the vulnerabilities that are found in the test results.

2. Penetration testing

This type of security testing is majorly used by white hat hackers to protect against black hat hackers by detecting security vulnerabilities in a program early on.

Today, cyber-attacks have become a norm for organizations. And thus, the regular need for cyber controls. Penetration testing aims to identify security vulnerabilities and take advantage of them in releasing fixes and patches.

White box tests, blind tests, double-blind tests, external tests, and internal tests are some of the types of penetration tests run by organizations to find security vulnerabilities and resolve them.

3. Vulnerability Scanning

Although penetration testing detects security vulnerabilities in programs and systems, it alone cannot secure the entire network. Vulnerability scanning is essential for identifying potential and known vulnerabilities on the network. It not only detects possible weak points in computers, networks, and network devices & equipment but also helps with countermeasures.

This type of security testing has two approaches viz. authenticated and unauthenticated scans.

In unauthenticated scans, the scans reveal vulnerabilities that do not require authenticated access. Whereas in authenticated scans, the scans show weaknesses that can only be accessed by authenticated users.

4. Risk Assessment

Some businesses wait to identify vulnerabilities in their data security systems until it’s too late. Cyber-attacks have become a common threat for enterprises. Waiting until an attack starts could lead to a big crisis. Risk assessment is essential to deal with these types of threats.

Specific unknown vulnerabilities either go undetected or overlooked. A sound security framework is incomplete without this critical security test viz. risk assessment. It aims to prevent security defects in programs and applications by implementing key security controls in place.

5. Ethical Hacking

In certain circumstances, it become essential to penetrate the system in the same way as hackers do, to reveal defects and vulnerabilities in the system. This is exactly what ethical hacking helps to achieve. It is done legitimately by a specialist who is skilled with all hacking and system attacking techniques.

While traditional hacking exploits detected vulnerabilities, ethical hacking is an approach which discloses found vulnerabilities to prevent any malicious attacks from happening.

Most Common Tools Used For Security Testing

1. Jtest

This popular unit testing tool is designed by Parasoft and aims to test Java applications. This tools is built on all the necessary technologies essential for performing regression testing, static analysis, data flow analysis, and load testing, among others.

2. Oswasp zap

This is an open-source pen testing and vulnerability scanner which can be used either during the development of a web application or during penetration tests to secure the web applications. This tool comes in handy when flaws are hidden so deep within an application that vulnerabilities cannot be discovered in any other way.

3. Wireshark

This free and open-source network analyzer is primarily used for analyzing and troubleshooting networks. For this, it examines the structure of different network protocols. Educational institutions and industrial sectors most commonly use this security testing tool.

4. BeFF

Web-borne attacks have become a common security concern for businesses these days. Short for the Browser Exploitation Framework, this powerful security testing tool aims to assess the security posture of the web browser. It works by leveraging browser vulnerabilities and adding customer browser exploitation commands.

5. Nmap

This open-source security scanning tool, which is short for network mapper, is used for scanning the network. It identifies the available hosts on the network, services offered by them, and the operating systems they’re running, among several other things. One of the best features of this tool is that it is flexible in the sense that it supports several advanced port scanning and mapping mechanisms.

6. Nessus

This remote security scanning tool scans programs and computers to discover vulnerabilities or any possible malicious attempts of attacks or breaking into a computer. For this, it runs a total of over 1200 checks on a given network or program. One of the most significant advantages of this tool over others is that it is very extensible, and it has up to date information about new vulnerabilities and attacks.

Significant Steps to Perform Security Testing

Step 1:
The first step should involve securing the data from any possible security breaches. For this, you need to decide the kind of accessibility you would like to allow your authenticated users. Consider conducting accessibility testing for this.

Step 2: 
This step should aim at ensuring the security and effectiveness of your data visibility and data storage. For this, consider testing your database for all kinds of critical data, and encrypting the transmission of your data.

Step 3: 
At this step, you should aim to secure your website against malicious scripts which could lead hackers to hack your site. For this, consider hiring professional security testing services which can help protect your website against unethical and malicious hacking practices.

Step 4: 
This step involves ensuring that all access requests of your app come from reliable IPs to prevent any unwanted security breaches. For this, consider checking all the entry points of your app and have your app reject the requests that do not come from reliable IPs.

Conclusion

If you’re not following proper security practices, your data is at a higher risk of being stolen, destroyed, or even altered.

If you’re in the process of selecting the best security testing tools for your project but are overwhelmed with the many choices available in the market, the above comprehensive list will help you make a suitable choice of tools for your security testing needs.

Saimukund Mathur is a QA Engineer at Intelegencia. I'm working in Intelegencia as a QA Engineer, apart from my work my hobbies are riding motorcycle with my bikers group on weekend, also at home I spend most of my free time playing Call of Duty, PUBG and some PC games.

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